After a six-month hiatus, Beijing has resumed its patrolling of the Taiwan Strait and beyond. An armada of People’s Liberation Army’s warplanes comprising H-6K bombers, Y-8 airlifters and Su-30 fighters was spotted near Taiwan on Tuesday.
The island’s defense ministry said a number of Chinese aircraft and two warships appeared near Taiwan on Tuesday morning. It added that the aerial-naval circumnavigation could be directed by the PLA’s Southern Theater Command based in Guangzhou.
It is believed that the warplanes took off from their bases in Guangdong province and flew past the Bashi Channel into the West Pacific before heading back. In effect, this means that the Chinese aircraft may have crossed into Taiwan’s airspace more than once.
Two PLA Navy vessels also appeared on Taiwan’s radar by sailing outside the island’s northeastern air defense identification zone, the ministry said, without elaborating on the type of vessels involved.
In the first half of the year, Taiwan confirmed at least six breaches of its airspace and defense identification zones by the Chinese military.
The resumption of PLA posturing thought to be aimed at Taiwan’s separatist leader Tsai Ing-wen coincided with the repetition of anti-secessionist mantra from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi vowed in a speech commenting on the 40th anniversary of China’s economic reforms that he would not allow a single inch of Chinese soil to be taken away.
Observers point out that recent missions targeting Taiwan and beyond have all involved H-6 bombers. The H-6 is reportedly capable of reaching Guam, and its use in these missions may be indicative of PLA plans to deny the US access to the region.